Calculated per inhabitant, Iceland publishes
more books and has more bookcases than any other country
in the world. Throughout history, literature has stood
in a class of its own in Icelandic culture.
The classical literature was written down in the 12th
and 13th centuries. It mainly reproduces older, oral
traditions from pre-Christian times. The oldest works
were written in Norway but could be preserved in Iceland
because, unlike the other Nordic countries, the country
was Christianized in relatively calm forms. Thus, it did
not become so urgent for the church to suppress the
memories of the pre-Christian era.
Latest population statistics of Iceland, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
This early literature was created by unknown authors
and is collected in the so-called Edda poetry. As
immortal works, Hávlaim, who, among other things, gives
advice on the Viking era's knowledge and etiquette, as
well as Völuspá, which depicts the world's creation and
the gods' struggle for the world's destruction, ragnarok.
An easily accessible genre is the poem of poetry or
the drape which in the 9th century gave Egill
Skallagrímsson and other skalders the opportunity to
excel in an exquisite and distinctive imagery, so-called
teachings. Within the prose, the personal and family
stories from the 13th century form a special genre; most
famous is Njal saga whose word button but dramatically
expressive storytelling technique still inspires writers
Even after the entry of Christianity in the 1000s,
the literary traditions of ancient times were alive and
new works were created, for example the unique and
poignant Sólarljóđ (Solsĺngen) by an unknown writer.
An important tradition is the writing of history,
exemplified by Landnámabók which depicts the island's
colonization. One historian and conservationist in
particular was the great man Snorri Sturluson (in sworn
form Snorre Sturlasson; 1179–1241), who among other
things wrote the history of the Norwegian kings in
In the 1300s, a new form of epic poems, rímur (singularis
ríma), came under the influence of European ballad
poetry. These have maintained their popularity in
Iceland into modern times. In the 17th and 18th
centuries manuscripts of the Icelandic sagas were
brought to the colonial power of Denmark, but in the
late 1900s these were brought back.
The 16th century reformation became a break for
cultural life, which had largely been centered around
the church. However, as an important religious poet,
Hallgrímur Pétursson emerged in the 17th century. His
collection of 50 Passion Psalms still characterizes the
Church's Easter celebrations and is read on the radio
each year during Lent.
During the 19th century, a national revival was born
among Icelandic intellectuals in Copenhagen. Literary
production gained new momentum, and the rise continued
in the 20th century.
To begin with, many Icelanders wrote in Danish or
Norwegian to reach a larger Nordic audience. In
Icelandic, on the other hand, Halldór Laxness wrote
novels such as Salka Valka and Iceland's Clock, and he
received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. Among
recent authors are Friđa Sigurđadóttir, Einar Már
Guđmundsson, Gyrđir Elíasson and Sigurjón Birgir
Sigurđsson (Sjón), all of whom received the Nordic
Council Literature Prize.
Composer Jón Leifs became one of the Nordic region's
foremost composers in the 20th century, known among
other things for Hekla, a musical representation of a
volcanic eruption. Icelandic films have also attracted
attention with directors such as Hrafn Gunnlaugsson,
Friđrik Ţór Friđriksson, Dagur Kári and Baltasar
Iceland has a world famous modern cultural
personality in the singer, composer and actress Biörk
New catch quotas for selection
Minister of Fisheries Kristján Þór Júlíusson from the Independence Party
announces that Iceland will continue hunting for elections for the next five
years. The catch quotas will be 209 for herring whales and 217 for folding
whales. The government is divided on this issue. The Left-The Greens are
critical to continued election hunting, but the Conservative Independence Party
manages to push through its line with support from the Progress Party. Both
parties believe that the hunt takes place in a sustainable way and in line with
scientific recommendations, which is supported by a newly released research
report from the University of Iceland and the Institute of Marine Research.